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Law School Launches Leitner Center for International Law and Justice


Law School Launches Leitner Center
for International Law and Justice

Former Attorney General Janet Reno and James Leitner (LAW ’82) speak with guests at the Leitner Center’s opening.
Photos by Bruce Gilbert

By Gina Vergel

Fordham Law School’s efforts to promote social justice through international law and human rights are being strengthened and expanded thanks to a new center.

The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice will serve as an umbrella organization for existing law school initiatives, including the 10-year-old Joseph R. Crowley Program in International Human Rights, through which law students participate in human rights fact-finding missions. In addition, the annual James E. Tolan Human Rights Fellowship will be administered through the center.

It also will sponsor a range of new initiatives dealing with everything from human rights advocacy to facilitating collaboration among law students, scholars and human rights activists in the United States and abroad.

Former Attorney General Janet Reno and James Leitner (LAW ’82) speak with guests at the Leitner Center’s opening.
Photos by Bruce Gilbert

“The Leitner Center consolidates much of what we were already doing and also serves as a platform for expanding our work in a systematic way,” said Tracy Higgins, Leitner Family Professor of International Human Rights and co-director of the center.

Officially launched at a ceremony on Sept. 19 at the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus, the center has established several projects, including the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic, which is designed to train a new generation of human rights lawyers and to inspire practical, results-oriented human rights work throughout the world.

Additionally, the center is organizing a colloquium to begin in the spring of 2008, which will bring to Fordham leading scholars of international law and political theory from around the world.

“We have created a new human rights clinic, three new faculty-led initiatives and internships for students,” Higgins said. “We also intend to invite visiting scholars to be affiliated with the center. As an umbrella organization, the new center can help to manage, publicize, promote and fund raise around these various initiatives.”

The center’s new projects include:

• The Sustainable Development Legal Initiative, which serves as a focal point for activities in the fields of human rights and sustainable development.

• The International Law and the Constitution Initiative, which provides research and advocacy opportunities for Fordham law students.

• The Center for International Security and Humanitarian Law, which analyzes effective regimes for the legal regulation of armed conflicts.

In addition, the center awards a human rights prize each year to an activist who assisted the Crowley Program during the prior year’s fact-finding mission. The center selected the first recipient last fall: Daphne Gondwe, president of the Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi. She received $1,000 and was flown to New York City to meet with representatives from international nongovernmental organizations.

Law School to Expand Leitner Center with $2 Million Gift

James Leitner (LAW ’82) and his wife, Sandra, have made a $2 million gift that will allow Fordham University School of Law to expand the work of the just-launched Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.

Including this gift, the Leitners have given just more than $7 million in the last three years. They made a $3.1 million donation last February that established a second Leitner Family Chair in International Human Rights and funded a human rights clinic. The couple also made a $2 million gift in 2005 that established the first Leitner Family Chair.

The Leitner Center has been created to promote social justice by encouraging knowledge of, and respect for, international law and human rights standards.

The additional funding will be used to develop new initiatives, including a visiting scholars program, and to establish the Human Rights Colloquium, a lecture and discussion series that will feature leading scholars.

James Leitner is president of Falcon Management Corp., a New Jersey-based investment firm that he founded in 1991. Before founding Falcon Management, Leitner held senior-level posts at financial institutions, including chief dealer at Bank of America International, vice president for proprietary trading at Shearson Lehman and managing director at Bankers Trust.

He and his wife have been longtime supporters of the 10-year-old Joseph R. Crowley Program in International Human Rights at the Law School. The Crowley Program will now become part of the Leitner Center.

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